Regulatory oversight processes for military air traffic services do not provide independent assessment and assurance as to the safety of civilian aircraft operations.
Response to safety issue by: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
The Report appears to predicate on the assumption that CASA should have oversight authority in respect of military air traffic services when civil traffic is present. However, no evidence or arguments are presented to support this as the most appropriate option.
In the past, CASA has participated in Defence surveillance of military air traffic services. We have every intention of continuing to do so in the future. The Report fails to acknowledge that activity or the effective benefits it has produced.
The ATSB [draft] recommendation …. does not appear to take into consideration the benefit of joint work (such as that described in the bullet point above) that Airservices Australia (AsA), the Department of Defence (DoD) and CASA could undertake, without the need for CASA to assume formal oversight of DoD air traffic services.
ATSB comment in response
The ATSB acknowledges that CASA does have a standing invitation to attend operational evaluations of military ATC units conducted by the military ANSP's auditors, and have participated and plan to continue to participate in these. Such cooperation is important, but CASA remains limited in the level of influence it has over military ATS in relation to the safety of civilian aircraft using military airspace. This ATSB investigation concluded that civilian aircraft have a disproportionate rate of loss of separation incidents which leads to a higher risk of collision in military terminal area airspace in general and all airspace around Darwin and Williamtown in particular. As the function of CASA is that of maintaining, enhancing and promoting civil aviation safety in Australia, the results of this investigation suggest that CASA’s influence is not as effective as it could be when it comes to the safety of civilian aircraft, including passenger transport aircraft, in military controlled airspace and some level of independent assessment and assurance as to the safety of civil aircraft operations at DoD airports by CASA is warranted. As a result, the ATSB is issuing the following recommendation.